Mister Pip

Mister Pip

Book - 2007
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Random House, Inc.
In a novel that is at once intense, beautiful, and fablelike, Lloyd Jones weaves a transcendent story that celebrates the resilience of the human spirit and the power of narrative to transform our lives.

On a copper-rich tropical island shattered by war, where the teachers have fled with most everyone else, only one white man chooses to stay behind: the eccentric Mr. Watts, object of much curiosity and scorn, who sweeps out the ruined schoolhouse and begins to read to the children each day from Charles Dickens’s classic Great Expectations.

So begins this rare, original story about the abiding strength that imagination, once ignited, can provide. As artillery echoes in the mountains, thirteen-year-old Matilda and her peers are riveted by the adventures of a young orphan named Pip in a city called London, a city whose contours soon become more real than their own blighted landscape. As Mr. Watts says, “A person entranced by a book simply forgets to breathe.” Soon come the rest of the villagers, initially threatened, finally inspired to share tales of their own that bring alive the rich mythology of their past. But in a ravaged place where even children are forced to live by their wits and daily survival is the only objective, imagination can be a dangerous thing.

Baker & Taylor
On a copper-rich tropical island shattered by war, on which survival is a daily struggle, eccentric Mr. Watts, the only white man left after the other teachers flee, spends his day reading to the local children from Charles Dickens's classic "Great Expectations."

Blackwell North Amer
On a copper-rich tropical island shattered by war, where the teachers have fled with almost everyone else, only one white man chooses to stay behind: the eccentric Mr. Watts, object of much curiosity and scorn, who sweeps out the ruined schoolhouse and begins to read to the children each day from Charles Dickens's classic Great Expectations.
So begins this story about the abiding strength that imagination, once ignited, can provide. While artillery echoes in the mountains, thirteen-year-old Matilda and her peers are riveted by the adventures of a young orphan named Pip in a city called London, a city whose contours soon become more real than their own blighted landscape. As Mr. Watts says, "A person entranced by a book simply forgets to breathe." Soon come the rest of the villagers, initially threatened, finally inspired to share tales of their own that bring alive the rich mythology of their past. But in a ravaged place where even children are forced to live by their wits and daily survival is the only objective, imagination can be a dangerous thing.

Baker
& Taylor

On a copper-rich tropical island shattered by war, on which survival is daily struggle, eccentric Mr. Watts, the only white man left after the other teachers flee, spends his day reading to the local children from Charles Dickens's classic Great Expectations, capturing the imaginations of thirteen-year-old Matilda and her peers with the London adventures of a young orphan named Pip. 50,000 first printing.

Publisher: New York : Dial Press, 2007
ISBN: 9780385341066
0385341067
Branch Call Number: FICTION JONES
Characteristics: 256 p.

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John_M
May 21, 2017

Touching story of a teacher and the community he taught. It shows us the complexity of people and how they can can be so much more than they reveal on the surface.

IPL_Mandy May 17, 2017

A moving story about hope and dedication in the midst of the violent upheaval of civil war. Some of the other commenters seem to think the story is set in a fictional place, but in fact Bougainville is a real place, an island, part of Papua New Guinea. And "redskins" was a term used to refer to workers who came in from the mainland, and the war really happened. So while the story is fiction, the setting is historically accurate. It's a place and event I've never read about before, which is one of the reasons I enjoyed it so much.

w
wyenotgo
Sep 18, 2016

A very difficult book to categorize -- doesn't fit well on any of my shelves. Even more difficult to review.
Goodreads readers' reviews of it are all over the map. It's really several very different books within one cover and they don't get along with each other. There are serious flaws, starting with a middle aged white guy attempting to write in the voice of a 13 year old black girl living in a fairly primitive south Pacific island setting, caught in the middle of a vicious civil war. The mask never fits. Then there's the overly gratuitous brutality of the faction called the "redskins"! Really??
All of which is too bad because the character of Mr. Watts is intriguing and his ability to translate a 19th century English classic into a life-changing experience for the local kids makes for a remarkable story. Perhaps best of all is some of the inspired prose that Watts and his wife had posted on the walls of their child's room. Finally, each reader will have to make up their own mind about the degree to which Jones goes for a free ride on "Great Expectations"; it worked for me but it is problematic.
Those comparing it to Life of Pi are off base. Despite all of that, 2 1/2 stars.

f
FVReader
Jun 23, 2016

Wow! I didn't expect this when I started reading. What a well told story.
There are opposites throughout: idyllic island surrounding/Victorian London; peaceful island/rebels & militia; Great Expectations/no expectations. The juxtapositions are harsh and affective.
Mr. Watts, the only white man on the island, takes it upon himself to teach the children during times of war after the school has been closed. He uses Great Expectations as a textbook, teaching the children of a world beyond their own, asking them to open their imaginations. The parallels & similarities between the two worlds are wonderfully interwoven as the story reveals itself.

s
sxl
Jul 30, 2015

excellent! touches so many universal themes, will read again!

PoMoLibrary Jun 30, 2015

From our 2015 #80DayRead Adult Summer Reading Club traveler Nicole: What an extraordinary story. Charles Dicken's Great Expectations and a tragic family struggle from a child's eyes.

WVMLStaffPicks Oct 21, 2014

Mister Pip comes to life amongst the equally vivid inhabitants of a nameless South Pacific island suspended in time. This is a beautiful and harrowing narrative about a girl caught in the undertow of post-colonial influences where she finds solace in the recounting of experiences of a fictional boy living in 19th century London.

e
Elizabeth131
Sep 19, 2013

Not an easy read, but an inspiring tribute to the triumph of the human spirit. There was an amazing lack of bitterness. People were presented as survivors, not victims, of the cruelty of war.

s
sess430
Nov 09, 2012

This is a book recommended by a U.T. professor on the 2010 Freshman Reading Round-up list. Although it has a rather sad ending, it is an inspiring tale of courage. I'd definitely recommend it.

BrigidScott Jan 17, 2012

Quirky, and that kept me reading on; but ultimately, verdict is: weird.

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vickiz
Dec 28, 2008

You cannot pretend to read a book. Your eyes will give you away. So will your breathing. A person entranced by a book simply forgets to breathe. The house can catch alight and a reader deep in a book will not look up until the wallpaper is in flames.

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